I recently became a man.
It didn’t involve learning to shave, my voice breaking or growing my first chest hair (it can’t have… I mean I haven’t even done that yet). Instead, it involved dealing with my greatest fear.
These 8 legged creepy, crawly, weird moving, untrustworthy looking things have caused me more anxiety over the last 27 years than anything else. It’s only now that I understand what Eminem was talking about in this song. You see, when I see a spider (specifically, a Huntsman) my palms go sweaty, knees weak and arms get heavy. However, unlike Eminem, I don’t bust into a well-timed, beat busting, crowd heaving rap. Instead, I freeze up, paralysed and unable to move.
Growing up my dad played the role of huntsman removalist. My brother, sister or I would raise the alarm subtly (see below) and he’d come charging in with his cup and piece of paper to get rid of the evil monstrosity (who was obviously out to kill us all). He’d always make light of the situation to calm us down by saying things like “What’s the matter? That’s just Ernie!”
I recall he once told me that daddy-long-legs spiders kill and scare off huntsmans. That was all the information I needed to become a self-taught daddy-long-legs enthusiast. From then on I’d make sure to have a daddy-long-legs in each corner of my room, to act as bodyguards.
At 16 years old I was sitting in the passenger seat of my sister’s car when a huntsman reared its big ugly head and threatened to end my life. What happened next I’m not overly proud of. I leapt from the passenger seat to the driver side, landing on my unsuspecting sister’s lap and began screaming at her to open the door. There were limbs everywhere, and eventually, we managed to clamber out, collapse onto the road and run down the driveway screaming like Homer Simpson. She sold the car not long after.
So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a bonafide arachnophobic. And yet, a few days ago, something awoke inside me allowing me to conquer this fear like never before.
I arrived home from work to find a big, hairy, scary looking huntsman sitting just above my bed. Ernie was back. It had been years since I’d seen him. And yet here he was. Taunting me with what I can only imagine was an evil little smirk. I immediately froze. My thought process went something like this: “Is that? No. Yes. It is. It’s Ernie. He’s back to kill me. Well, looks like I’m moving house.”
I turned to walk downstairs, reached for my phone to start the search for fully furnished rentals in the area and then noticed something. The ducted vacuum hole in the wall. I wonder…
I went downstairs and grabbed a beer from the fridge muttering under my breath about Ernie. I took a big long swig before reaching for the vacuum in the cupboard.
It was time.
I put the beer down, attached an extra long three-metre telescopic attachment (allowing me to stand as far back from this monster as possible), and headed back upstairs to the front line. Trembling and shaking I approached the bedroom and plugged in the vacuum. The sucking sound must’ve raised alarm bells for Ernie, because almost immediately he sprang to life, scuttling up the wall to try and escape. Not today Ernie.
The next 10 seconds is a bit of a blur but I recall letting out a very manly war cry and charging at the wall with the vacuum, again ala Homer Simpson.
Ernie was sucked up the long attachment and disappeared from view leaving me standing there, panting and drenched in sweat with the vacuum held in my hands like a used rifle.
I’d done it. I’d gotten rid of my first ever huntsman spider and in the process lept triumphantly into manhood. I dropped the vacuum, leaving it on ‘high’ just to be sure Ernie didn’t come crawling back up the attachment. I collapsed onto the bed and put my head in my hands.
After 15 minutes I decided it was unlikely Ernie was going to resurrect himself, Terminator style. I unplugged the vacuum, hoisted it over my shoulder and strutted downstairs, quite the war hero. Chest puffed, I explained to my housemates in great detail the battle I’d just fought and won.
They laughed, shook their heads before one of them said: “you do realise the spider is probably alive, sitting in the vacuum bag in the downstairs garage?”
Needless to say, I haven’t been down there for 6 days.